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Weibo Watch: The Digital Torchbearer

What’s trending on Weibo? About the main media message of the Asian Games, the most controversial embrace, how the Huawei product launch generated a new popular word, and much more.





This week’s newsletter:
◼︎ 1. Editor’s Note – The digital torchbearer
◼︎ 2. What’s Trending – A closer look at the featured stories
◼︎ 3. What More to Know – Highlighting 8 hot topics
◼︎ 4. What Lies Behind – Nanyang’s Midi disaster
◼︎ 5. What’s Noteworthy – An inappropriate video
◼︎ 6. What’s Popular – Shaq’s China tour
◼︎ 7. What’s Memorable – Special travel forces
◼︎ 8. Weibo Word of the Week – “Far Ahead”


Dear Reader,


Following deadly attacks by Hamas, Israel launched a mega counter offensive after Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that the country is at war. The Israel-Palestine crisis, much like elsewhere globally, is a major topic of discussion on Chinese social media.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to the conflict on Saturday, expressing concerns about the escalating tensions and voicing China’s stance that civilians should be protected and that further deterioration should be prevented.

They also reiterated that the fundamental solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the path to peace, according to China, lies in the implementation of the “two-state solution” (两国方案) and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

While distressing images of innocent civilians, including children, suffering in the violence are circulating all over social media, there is an entirely different event that is attracting attention online as the Asian Games are coming to an end.

The 19th Asian Games closing ceremony on October 8th features a spectacular golden “digital torchbearer,” which was also featured in the opening ceremony, brought to life through augmented reality (AR) technology.

The giant ‘torchbearer’, who is named Nongchao’er (弄潮儿#), represent many things. Amongst others, Nongchao’er symbolizes technological innovation, not just in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, and the Asian Games, but also in China as a whole.

Chinese state media recently reported about all the digital highlights at the Hangzhou Asian Games, featuring innovative technological applications. Besides a ‘digital torchbearer,’ this also includes the launch of the first-ever metaverse platform for a major multi-sport event, electronic identity registration cards, and the exploration of 5.5G technology (#杭州亚运会上的数字智能亮点#).

Perhaps more important than all these initiatives themselves is the way they are propagated to a wider audience. Whether it is the Asian Games or the latest Huawei product launch, the narrative is all about China staying ahead, China as the pioneer, China as the innovative digital leader in a new world order.

Adding to this narrative is China’s achievement of its 200th gold medal at the Asian Games, and so the official media accounts focus on underscoring China’s success in both digital and sports arenas, making sure that everyone knows that ‘Team China’ is on the winning track.

Miranda Barnes has made contributions to this week’s newsletter. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me about the latest China trends you spotted and would like to know more about. Contact me via email or DM, or follow me on X for the latest news and trends (oh and I’m also active on Instagram here and here).


PS In case you missed it, some of the things I tweeted about:

➡️ X, formerly Twitter, prides itself in its community notes system. But especially when it comes to China-related news, these contributor notes can be deceiving. Tweet.

➡️ Spotted on Weibo: when you just ordered a Didi but also get the Chinese garden and teahouse experience for free. Tweet.

➡️ An unexpected viral sensation in light of the China visit by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and wife; the Chinese special agent and female bodyguard who accompanied them during their various activities in China. Tweet.


A closer look at the top stories

1: Thefts at Midi Music Festival | The many thefts and tent lootings at China’s Midi Music Festival that occurred during the National Day holiday in Nanyang have become a major topic on Chinese social media this week. What went wrong and who is to blame for so many festival-goers getting their personal belongings stolen from them?

Read more

2: Camel Jams | During this National Day public holiday, scenic spots all over China were super crowded with tourists. One spot that was especially popular this year is Dunhuang in Gansu. Six kilometers south of the city you find the “Singing Sand Mountains & Crescent Moon Spring” (鸣沙山月牙泉). The huge crowds visiting the area have attracted attention on Chinese social media, where people joke about the ‘camel jams’ (堵骆驼) happening due to so many tourists doing camel rides in the scenic area, causing enormous lines of camels throughout the desert.

Read more

3: Ongoing Discussions on ‘Cābiān’ | Chinese social media is seeing more discussions recenty on the blurred boundaries of cābiān. This seemingly never-ending discussion raises questions – not just about sexually suggestive content, but also about the evolving perceptions of women’s bodies and freedom in the digital age.

Read more

4: ‘Official’ Moment Caught on Camera | Two officials working at a local subdistrict office in Shandong are now suspended after a leaked video showed them engaging in sexual acts shortly after an online meeting. The secretary had allegedly forgot to turn the camera off after a team meeting.

Read more


What More to Know

Highlighting 8 hot topics

◼︎ 🔎 1. Evergrande Founder Facing Legal Troubles. China’s second-largest development firm Evergrande, all over the news due to its debt woes, has recently become a big topic of discussion once again as news came out that its billionaire chairman and founder, Hui Ka Yan (Xu Jiayin 许家印), is being investigated by the authorities for suspected criminal behavior and is currently under so-called residential surveillance. The criminal charges he potentially faces are yet unspecified. Shortly after the news came out, trading of the company’s shares was halted for two days. (Weibo hashtag: #许家印已被依法采取强制措施# Xu Jiayin Facing Legal Enforcement Measures, 830 million views).

◼︎ 📲 2. Huawei’s Champion Chip. Huawei just keeps making waves on Chinese social media these weeks. China’s tech giant held its fall product launch on September 25, showcasing new tablets, watches, TVs, and high-end smartphones. The event featured Hong Kong star Andy Lau endorsing the products with an emotional musical performance. The launch was very much anticipated because people had hoped to learn more about the Mate60 smartphone’s powerful Kirin 9000 chip, which was developed after the U.S. sanctions. However, there was no extra focus on the background of the chip, which is believed to be self-produced. (Hashtag “Huawei News Conference” ##华为发布会##, received 595 million views on September 25).

◼︎ 🇹🇭 3. Chinese among Bangkok Shooting Victims. The deadly Thai shopping mall shooting, which occurred in Bangkok on October 3rd, left at least two people dead and five others injured. Among the victims are two Chinese citizens, of which one is among the deceased. The news made quite an impact on Chinese social media, as Thailand just introduced its temporary visa-free travel policy for Chinese nationals in an effort to boost the tourism industry after the pandemic. Both victims from China had arrived in Thailand under the new policy. The Chinese female tourist who lost her life is leaving behind two young twin daughters, who were also present at the scene and witnessed their mother being shot. “Don’t go to Thailand, it’s not safe,” a typical comment on Weibo said. The shooter, only 14 years old, has been arrested and faces multiple charges. (Hashtags: “Three People Dead after Thai Mall Shooting” #泰国一商场发生枪击案已致3人死亡#, 220 million views; “Thai Prime Minister Apologizes to Chinese Ambassador” #泰国总理致电中国大使道歉#, 160 million views; “Chinese Victims in Thai Shooting entered Country Under Visa-Free Policy #泰国枪击案死伤中国游客系免签入境#, 130 million views).

◼︎ 🏫 4. “Extreme Bullying” Case at Shanxi School. A severe case of intimidation and (sexual) assault at a bilingual primary school in Shanxi has sparked discussions on campus bullying in China in recent weeks. This case is particularly significant because it involves young children; two 4th graders, aged 9, targeted another 10-year-old boy. Not only did the boys subject their classmate to verbal abuse and beatings, they also coerced him into engaging in inappropriate actions with them. The incident garnered nationwide attention after the boy’s parents shared an online message detailing their child’s physical assault and expressing dissatisfaction with the school’s inadequate response, despite enduring this ordeal for a year. Campus bullying has been a longstanding issue in Chinese schools, but cases involving such young perpetrators rarely make headlines. By now, the school principal has been removed from their position. The two minors have been reprimanded. (Weibo hashtag “Police Responds to Online Datong Primary School Bullying Incident” #警方回应网传大同小学生霸凌事件#, 390 million views).

◼︎ 🤢 5. Flowing Noodles Food Poisoning Outbreak. Perhaps you’ve recently noticed a trend surrounding so-called “flowing noodles.” On TikTok and beyond, there have been many videos hyping this style of eating, in which Japanese restaurants offer guests a summer activity where noodles flow down a bamboo chute filled with cool water. In Japan’s Ishikawa, such flowing noodles recently led to a major food poisening outbreak, linked to Campylobacter bacteria, affecting 892 people across 18 prefectures. The restaurant in question was closed after the outbreak. (Weibo hashtag “Japanese Flowing Noodles Causes food Poisening among 892 Individuals” #日本流水面致892人中毒#, 330 million views.)

◼︎ 🚨 6. Shanghai Girl Goes Missing in Sea. A 4-year-old girl from Shanghai went missing in sea in Pudong, as reported by local police on October 6th. The girl had gone to the beach with her family on October 4. As the girl was playing by the seaside, her father briefly left to grab his phone. When he returned, he could not find his daughter and the parents reported her missing shortly after. Despite deploying a substantial search team and employing infrared drones, the girl has yet to be found. Although surveillance videos of the area were blurry, one moment did show the girl walking towards the sea in her father’s absence and disappearing into the sea. Despite the odds, thousands of Weibo users have expressed their hopes for the safe return of the girl. (Hashtag: “Shanghai Police Reports 4-Year-Old Girl Missing at Sea” #上海警方通报4岁女童在海边走失#, 150 million views).

◼︎ 🥮 7. Mid-Autumn Festival & National Day Holidays. As China’s Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day public holiday comes to an end, Chinese media report a boom in domestic tourism numbers, as more people went out to travel this week compared to the same period in pre-Covid 2019. The number of domestic tourists reportedly reached 826 million – a 4.1% increase compared to 2019. During this year’s holiday, music festivals, concerts, and museums were especially popular. (Weibo hashtag: “Mid-Autumn Festival and National Holiday Sees 826 Million Trips #中秋国庆假期国内8.26亿人次出游#, 35 million views).

◼︎ 💻 8. Cyberbullies in Court. In 2022, the Liu Xuezhou case gripped the attention of millions of Chinese netizens. Liu Xuezhou (刘学州) became famous overnight when he used social media to seek help in locating his biological parents. But his quest to find his parents ended in disappointment, and he became the target of relentless online harassment. Overwhelmed by the pressure, Liu took his own life at the age of 15. Now, Liu Xuezhou’s name has resurfaced as a trending topic on social media, but this time it’s due to the commencement of a trial against those responsible for cyberbullying him. The legal action has been initiated by Liu’s family, who are seeking to hold the perpetrators of his online harassment accountable and seek justice on his behalf. The trial, conducted offline, involves two prominent online influencers who had targeted Liu Xuezhou. As of now, a verdict has not been reached (Hashtag “No Verdict Yet in Liu Xuezhou Cyberbully Case” #刘学州被网暴案未当庭宣判#, 9,9 million views).


What Lies Behind

Observations beyond the headlines, by Miranda Barnes

Stark Disparities at the Midi Music Festival Theft Controversy

The recent theft incident at Nanyang’s Midi Festival (南阳迷笛音乐节现偷盗事件) has become a major topic of discussion in China this week, and it seems to have been blown out of proportion while new discussions, memes and jokes on the topic keep flooding the internet.

Why did these thefts, which occurred while festivalgoers were enjoying the music, generate so much attention? One key factor is the stark contrast between the two groups involved: the victims were young, tech-savvy urban music fans, while the thieves were older, less digitally savvy locals from rural areas.

The Chinese music enthusiasts who attended Midi Festival are passionate about rock music, live entertainment, immersive experiences, and leisure travel. This consumer group generated a whopping 2.5 billion yuan (US$350 million) in music festival and concert ticket sales in the first half of this year alone. Most of them are young, educated, and socially connected, and they didn’t think twice about bringing their latest digital gadgets, laptops, cameras, and camping gear to enjoy their time in Nanyang. Perhaps it did not even cross their mind that something might happen?

On the flip side, the local villagers involved belong to an entirely different social class. Many of them have lower levels of education and income. They saw an opportunity amidst the festival chaos. Rumors on the internet suggested that the festival was over, and the site needed to be cleared, so they believed that anything left behind was fair game, including valuable items. Some may have genuinely believed this, while others went along with the narrative, assuming they could escape consequences. Some even brought mini pickup trucks to the campsite to take more items home. They seemed oblivious to the efforts and plans local authorities had put into promoting and organizing the festival, which would boost the regional economy in the long run.

These villagers likely live have limited exposure to social media and the digital world around them. Had they been more aware, there is no way they could have thought they could get away with stealing other people’s in broad daylight. They would have realized just how unacceptable it is. Perhaps it did not even cross their mind either that something might happen.

Now, many online discussions focus on alleged slander campaigns against the festival, Nanyang, or even Henan. However, the real issue lies in the stark divide between the rural villagers, who seem unaware of the festival’s broader context, and the urban festivalgoers, who can’t comprehend why these villagers resorted to theft. It’s as if they come from different worlds. This clash serves as a reminder that some individuals have been left behind during China’s rapid economic growth and digitalization. While China’s thriving live music industry brings people together, this particular incident also highlights the stark disparities that persist.


What’s Noteworthy

Small news with big impact

The most talked-about embrace of the Asian Games | Chinese track & field athletes Lin Yuwei (林雨薇) and Wu Yanni (吴艳妮) shared an emotional embrace following the women’s 100-meter hurdles final at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on October 1st. Chinese athlete Lin Yuwei crossed the finish line first with a time of 12.74 seconds, achieving a personal best, and Wu initially finished second.

A photo of the hug, shot by Vincent Thian for the Associated Press, made international headlines this week. As Lin’s and Wu’s lanes were 6 and 4, the signs of the two women aligned as they hugged, forming the numbers “6-4,” widely seen as a reference to the Tiananmen student protest crackdown of June 4, 1989. As reported by CNN, Chinese state media outlet CCTV originally posted the photograph on Weibo on Sunday night, but removed it from its account about an hour later.

By now, virtually all versions of this image that clearly shows the ‘6’ and ‘4’ lined up have been removed from Weibo and beyond. The reference to the date, especially on China’s National Day, was undoubtedly deemed too sensitive. This incident was soon covered by BBC, The Guardian, and many other Western media outlets, as sign of Chinese political censorship.

In China, however, it was not the photo nor its censorship that created a buzz on social media, but the fact that Wu Yanni was later disqualified from the 100m hurdles final after a false start. Wu posted an apology on Monday, expressing her respect for the referee’s final decision. She also received some criticism for dragging the Chinese flag on the ground, while her fellow athlete Lin Yuwei held the flag up at all times. The hashtag “Wu Yanni disqualified” (#吴艳妮成绩被取消#) racked up 430 million views on Weibo.


The latest buzz in arts & pop culture

Shaq here, Shaq there, Shaq everywhere | It’s been a busy China week for Shaquille O’Neal. The American former professional basketball player has been touring Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Macao. Photos on social media showed how ‘Shaq’ seemed to be everywhere at once while having a seemingly great time, and grabbing all the promo-activities he could. His China tour was, among others, sponsored by Gillette, and fans could get tickets for a meet & greet with their “giant” hero. Shaq has been to China many times before but this was his first post-pandemic tour, and it was probably a good opportunity for him and his team to make some 💰💰💰. He did various Asian Games-related activities, did some Papa John’s promotions, got acquainted with a local group of square-dancing grannies, participated in a promotion on Taobao for the Mid-Autumn Festival, went out on a scooter ride in Hangzhou, and had loads of mooncakes and called himself “half Chinese”, which then went trending on Weibo (he was also making mooncakes, but the gloves did not fit him.).


What’s Memorable

Best reads from the archive

Fun, Fast, Frugal Travel | In this post ‘Covid zero’ year, ‘special forces travelers’ are flooding popular tourist spots across China. Their mission is clear: covering as many places as possible at the lowest cost and within a limited time. While the travel trend has become a social media hype, there are also those criticizing the trend for being superficial and troublesome. This article, from our archives just five months ago, is all the more relevant during this National Holiday.

Read more


Weibo Word of the Week

The catchword to know

“Far Ahead” | Our Weibo Word of the Week is “遥遥领先” (yáo yáo lǐng xiān) which translates to “be far ahead.”

During the much-anticipated Huawei launch event on September 25, consumer chief Richard Yu unveiled an impressive array of Huawei’s latest products and innovations, such as the latest version of its MatePad Pro (the world’s lightest and thinnest tablet of its kind), a new smart TV, wireless earphones, and he also announced Huawei’s first sedan, the Luxeed S7, which allegedly will be “superior” to Tesla’s Model S “in every specification.”

During his speech, Yu recurringly used the phrase “far ahead”, “遥遥领先” (yáo yáo lǐng xiān), to indicate that Huawei is fully future-proof and far ahead of other companies. As a result, the phrase became popular among Chinese netizens, who started using it for all kinds of things.

It did not take long for the phrase to get registered as a trademark by some business owners in Shenzhen who hope it might bring them some profit (#遥遥领先已被注册商标#). One thing is sure: they were the first and ‘far ahead’ of others.

This is an on-site version of the Weibo Watch newsletter by What’s on Weibo. Missed last week’s newsletter? Find it here. If you are already subscribed to What’s on Weibo but are not yet receiving this newsletter in your inbox, please contact us directly to let us know.

Stories that are authored by the What's on Weibo Team are the stories that multiple authors contributed to. Please check the names at the end of the articles to see who the authors are.

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Weibo Watch: Ghost Scales

From national pride to social distrust, these are the most noteworthy trends and topics dominating Chinese social media recently.





This week’s newsletter:
◼︎ 1. Editor’s Note – Ghost Scales
◼︎ 2. What’s Featured – A closer look at the featured stories
◼︎ 3. What More to Know – Highlighting 8 hot topics
◼︎ 4. What Lies Behind – Observations beyond the headlines, by Miranda Barnes
◼︎ 5. What’s Noteworthy – Lu Xun turning in his grave?
◼︎ 6. What’s Popular – China’s very own ‘pride walk’
◼︎ 7. What’s Memorable – The school in Changzhou that made students ill
◼︎ 8. Weibo Word of the Week – “Toxic Fangirling”, by Ruixin Zhang


Dear Reader,


‘Ghost scales’ have been all the talk on Weibo lately. The term, guǐ chèng (鬼秤), refers to inaccurate scales used to cheat customers by providing less than the actual quantity for the price paid.

The topic of ghost scales came up when a well-known Chinese blogger recently exposed how many sellers in Dalian markets were actually using deceptive weighing scales, duping ordinary customers buying their vegetables, fruit, or seafood. On Weibo alone, one related hashtag page garnered nearly 250 million views.

Despite local authorities stepping up to investigate and punish fraudulent sellers tampering with scales, the incident ignited anger beyond Dalian. People questioned why it took an internet influencer to advocate for consumer rights and why there aren’t better regulations in place to combat fraud. Rather than blaming the fraudulent sellers, online anger was mostly directed at the systems allowing them to operate.

The ghost scale story does not stand by itself. Much smaller stories have gone viral before, such as the customer who discovered that the 200g of tripe he ordered for 72rmb ($11) at a local Haidilao restaurant was actually only 138g. A related hashtag received over 260 million views on Weibo in 2021. “Next time I’m bringing my own scale,” some commenters replied.

The vlogger, superB太, exposing the fraudulent scales in Dalian.

Is it much ado about nothing? Not really. Although the stories differ, the common theme behind many of these online discussions is distrust. Recently, various topics highlighting low societal trust have trended.

One revolved around the Heilongjiang gym collapse. Three Chinese middle school students died in November when their gymnasium roof collapsed after heavy snowfall. It was the second gym collapse incident in the province this year. Netizens argued that better inspections, quality checks, and stricter public safety regulations could have prevented the tragedy.

Another example is the recent controversy about fake birthing certificates being sold by a hospital in Xiangyang for use by human trafficking brokers. The head of the hospital and five others were soon detained after the story, exposed by a Chinese investigative vlogger, went viral. Many questioned how such a thing could still happen in 2023.

The recurring idea in these online discussions is that existing constructions at various levels in Chinese society allow such practices to happen, with people supposedly covering for each other and turning a blind eye during inspections. While a market might have actual ‘ghost scales,’ similar deceptive operations could occur at a hospital management level, at a construction site, or within a coal mine company.

A few years ago, the development of China’s Social Credit System was often portrayed as a gloomy sci-fi storyline by many Western media outlets. Even today, there are many people who think that China has a system in place as depicted in the American Black Mirror series, which shows a dystopian society where people are judged by a numeric rating given to them by their interactions with other people.

Many people and media outlets not only misunderstood the Chinese ‘Social Credit System’; they also overlooked the historical, social, and culturally rooted factors that play a crucial role in understanding how such a system, designed to enhance societal trust, could actually be embraced. (For accurate and nuanced perspectives on the social credit system, Vincent Brussee has just published a new book that delves into these complexities.)

In the Black Mirror episode ‘Nosedive’, people’s position on the social ladder is determined by other people ranking them.

In making a distinction between ‘high-trust societies’ and ‘low-trust societies,’ Francis Fukuyama (1995) classified China as a ‘low trust society,’ where people have very little trust in people outside their family or close groups. Though not everyone agrees with Fukuyama, the idea of being cheated or becoming a victim of fraudulent practices regularly trends on China’s internet. Small incidents represent more significant issues.

After the Dalian ghost scale incident went viral, multiple people took the initiative to test scales in their own neighborhoods. A student from Henan University, a livestreamer from Shenyang, a reporter from Nanchang—each contributed to exposing local street vendors or restaurant owners using ghost scales to cheat customers.

The domino effect of ghost scales being exposed demonstrates the powerful dynamic of Chinese social media. Untrustworthy individuals lacking integrity can be swiftly exposed, and their fraudulent businesses crumble within hours. Chinese influencers, vloggers, and commentators play a major role in addressing various social issues, from scamming sellers to corrupt doctors, and actually make a change.

Some netizens recently commented that their local market sellers would not dare to use ghost scales anymore. In the meantime, however, while the fight for consumer rights and social injustice continues, it could never hurt to bring your own trustworthy scale.

Miranda Barnes and Ruixin Zhang have contributed to this week’s newsletter.

Manya (@manyapan)

* Francis Fukuyama. 1995. Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity. New York: Free Press


A closer look at the top stories

1: National Pride and Shifting Dynamics in Sino-American Relations | The Xi-Biden meeting was one of the biggest topics of the week. After the much anticipated face-to-face talk in California, one noteworthy detail quickly hit Weibo’s top trending topics, namely Biden’s apparent admiration for Xi Jinping’s Hongqi car. The recognition of the decades-old Chinese Hongqi brand by a U.S. president was a promotion-worthy moment for Chinese official channels, resonating with netizens.

Read more

2: ‘Sleepy Joe’ and ‘Revive the Country’ Biden | From positive portrayals by official channels to online banter and critical voices discussing Biden’s global policies and his health, there are various sentiments on Chinese social media surrounding US President Joe Biden. At a time when anti-American sentiments are on the rise, some netizens view Biden as embodying the negative stereotypes prevalent on social media about the United States or the Western world in general. But in the days leading up the Xi-Biden meeting Chinese official channels are promoting more positive portrayals of the U.S. leader.

Read more

3: The Sun-Yat Sen Hospital Controversy | Several medical workers who all worked at the same renowned oncology lab in Guangzhou recently were diagnosed with cancer. Although there are many concerns about whether or not their cancer is related to their working environment, the primary source of public outrage revolves around the handling of the controversy by the affiliated hospital.

Read more

4: Douyin Introduces Paywalls | The introduction of a Douyin novel feature, that would enable content creators to impose a fee for accessing their short video content, has sparked discussions across Chinese social media. Although the feature would benefit creators, many Douyin users are skeptical. Would this be a new beginning for the Chinese TikTok, or would it be the end?

Read more


What More to Know

Highlighting 8 hot topics

◼︎ 1. TAOBAO CRASHES DURING SINGLE’S DAY SALES | China’s largest online shopping event of the year, Single’s Day, took place on November 11 for the 15th time. Despite concerns over China’s economy, Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and once again saw record sales, although, similar to last year, they did not release their full results. One topic that generated enormous attention on the day itself was Taobao, Alibaba’s e-commerce platform, becoming unreachable before the end of the day, leaving millions of online shoppers clicking and refreshing as the platform kept crashing due to the surge in traffic. (Weibo hashtag “Taobao Down” #淘宝崩了#, 2.6 billion views).

◼︎ 2. SIMBA DOUYIN ACCOUNT BLOCKED | Earlier this month, Chinese famous Kuaishou livestreamer Simba (辛巴, real name Xin Youzhi) became a top trending topic after his Douyin account, where he had over four million followers, was banned. Although the official reason for his suspension was not explicitly stated, it reportedly related to the fact that Simba, among others, had scolded the Douyin platform. Simba, the king of Kuaishou, is known for getting into controversies and arguing with other livestreamers and companies. Now, he can add ‘arguing with platforms’ on his list as well. (Weibo hastag “Simba Douyin Account Banned” #辛巴抖音账号被封禁#, 390 million views).

◼︎ 3. MURDER IN MATSUDO | In the morning of November 9, Japanese police Matsudo discovered a woman covered in blood on the streets of the city’s Kogasaki district. She was later pronounced dead at the hospital. The woman was a 33-year-old Chinese national who reportedly resided in the Japanese city. She was fatally attacked and beaten by two men in the early hours of the morning and was left to die in the streets in a pool of blood. (Weibo hashtag “Chinese Woman Murdered on Streets in Japan” #一中国女子在日本街头被杀害#, 350 million views, read more here)

◼︎ 4. CHINESE CROWDS CHEERING IN SAN FRANCISCO | Apart from the Xi-Biden talks and APEC in general, what caught significant attention on Chinese social media this week was the enthusiastic reception of Xi Jinping by Chinese crowds in San Francisco. On November 14, the day of his arrival in the US, flag-waving crowds gathered along Xi Jinping’s route from the airport to the hotel. Chinese official media actively shared news about their presence, while protests critical of Xi and addressing human rights issues in China went unreported. In contrast, the pro-Palestine protests during APEC did receive media attention, highlighting a media bias in determining which public voices and flag-waving actions were deemed hashtag-worthy and which were silenced. (Weibo hashtag “Crowds of Chinese/Overseas Chinese Form Welcome Crowd in San Francisco,” #华人华侨在旧金山组成欢迎人群#, 170 million views.)

◼︎ 5. CHINESE INTERNET CELEBRITY DROWNS | News about a Chinese national drowning in Bali became top trending on Weibo on November 9 when it was revealed that the 34-year-old man was the popular Chinese influencer Jhony Huang (仲尼), also known as XFJ or Huang Xiaofeng (黄小沣). The tragic incident reportedly occurred when Huang was swept away by waves and struck by a large wooden object while swimming with his wife at Batu Belig Beach during their vacation. His wife, the Ukrainian Karina Melynychuk, was also hospitalized but did not sustain serious injuries. According to local reports, Huang’s lifeless body was discovered floating approximately 100 meters from the Petitenget Beach shoreline. (Weibo hashtag “34-Year-Old Chinese Male Drowns in Bali” #一名34岁中国男性在巴厘岛遇难#, 910 million views; “Jhony Drowns After Hit by a Large Log” #仲尼系遭大木头撞击溺亡#, 140 million views).

◼︎ 6. BIRTH CERTIFICATE SCANDAL | A hospital director and seven staff members are currently being investigated for reportedly selling counterfeit birth certificates for trafficked babies. The controversy emerged when a Chinese anti-human trafficking campaigner posted a video on Douyin, accusing Jianqiao Hospital in Xiangyang (襄阳健桥医院) of fabricating birth certificates and charging approximately 96,000 yuan ($13,165) for them. On social media, netizens expressed shock that such practices are still occurring in 2023, and there was surprise that the case was brought to light by a volunteer rather than being uncovered by authorities (Weibo hashtag “Xiangyang Announcement on Jianqiao Hospital Selling Birth Certificates Problems” #襄阳通报健桥医院贩卖出生证问题#, 27,8 million views).

◼︎ 7. FIRE IN SHANXI | A fire that broke out on the morning of November 16 in a coal firm office building in Lüliang, Shanxi province, claimed the lives of at least 26 people and resulted in 38 injuries. The blaze ignited in the four-story building containing offices and dormitories. The incident adds to a series of safety concerns in China’s coal industry – the building in question is affiliated with the Yongju Coal Group (永聚煤矿), a mayor player in the region’s coal mining sector. By now, 13 people related to the company, including executives, are facing criminal measures for their responsibility in the incident. (Weibo hashtag “Shanxi Yongju Coal Company Fire Claims 26 Lives” #山西永聚煤业火灾已致26人遇难#, 65 million views).

◼︎ 8. WOMAN SPENDS FORTUNE ON HOTPOT | A 32-year-old woman from Nanjing, China, grabbed attention on Weibo this weekend by revealing that she had spent nearly 270,000 yuan (over $37,400) at China’s renowned hotpot chain, Haidilao, in the past nine years. The hotpot enthusiast, named Kong, joined Haidilao as a member in 2014, and in that time, she indulged in over 627 hotpot dinners. Occasionally, her cravings led her to visit the restaurant more than 12 times a week, even enjoying hotpot for breakfast. (Weibo hashtag “32-Year-Old Woman Spent 270k at Haidilao in 9 Years” #32岁女子9年花费近27万吃海底捞#, 150 million views).


What Lies Behind

Observations beyond the headlines, by Miranda

The Story of Li Jun and Liang Liang

In recent days, the challenges faced by an ordinary young Chinese couple who purchased an unfinished property have sparked extensive discussions on Chinese social media, shedding light on broader trends that lead some young people to seek an escape from the urban struggle and striving for a better everything (better housing, better jobs, better education) – they just want to “lie flat” (躺平) instead.

Last year, the couple, Li Jun (丽君) and Liang Liang (亮亮), first became popular on Chinese social media as they shared their journey of buying a property and building a life in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. They put a deposit on an off-planned apartment, eagerly anticipating its delivery in three years. Excited about their new home, they regularly updated their progress on Douyin, showcasing their savings efforts and monthly visits to the construction site.

However, after eight months, the developer faced financial issues, causing a halt in construction. In later videos, the couple appeared frustrated and disillusioned. Their daughter was born during this time, adding to the financial strain of rent and mortgage payments without a clear timeline for moving into their future home. Many others faced similar challenges. Authorities intervened, promising a delayed delivery. The initial contract included a 20,000 RMB ($2775) rebate for buyers, but the couple faced rejection and insults when demanding payment. In a recent altercation, the husband was beaten by developer personnel, and the wife’s phone was snatched as she tried to record the situation.

Their Douyin videos reflected the emotional rollercoaster of an ordinary Chinese couple facing setbacks despite following the traditional path of education, hard work, marriage, saving, property ownership, and starting a family. They are one of thousands of millions of ordinary Chinese people, who give their best effort despite all the struggles. Many were asking, would their life have been different if they had decided to ‘lie flat’ instead? And who is to blame for the fact that, despite all of their hard work and commitment, their ‘Chinese dream’ is taken away from them?


What’s Noteworthy

Small news with big impact

Lu Xun Turning in His Grave? | Lu Xun (魯迅, 1881-1936) stands out as one of China’s most notable and influential authors of the twentieth century. This esteemed Chinese writer, essayist, and literary critic unexpectedly found himself at the center of China’s social media discussions this week following an interview with his grandson, Zhou Lingfei (周令飞), during the Mao Dun Literature Award ceremony (茅盾文学奖) on November 17 in Wuzhen.

During the interview, Lu Xun’s grandson was asked about his online and reading habits. In a light-hearted response, Zhou humorously shared that he spends approximately 90% of his time watching short videos and 10% of his time reading books. A related hashtag (#鲁迅孙子自称90%刷视频10%看书#) went viral on Weibo, amassing over 190 million clicks.

The topic received so much interest due to various reasons. For one, as Lu Xun is widely regarded as the greatest Chinese writer of this century, people would expect his grandson to also be a man of literary knowledge and wisdom – they simply did not expect him to say he scrolls apps like Douyin and Kuaishou on a daily basis. Another reason is that it underscores a broader trend where people spend more and more hours on their phone mindlessly scrolling videos instead of engaging in study and learning. While some criticized Zhou for his comments, others also praised him for being authentic, straightforward and honest, just like his grandpa.


The latest buzz in arts & pop culture, by Ruixin

Halloween Outfits Reflecting Social Trends | Since our last newsletter was all about What’s on Weibo’s 10-Year Anniversary, we’d still like to take a moment to reflect on the celebration of Halloween in Shanghai this year as it caused a frenzy on the Internet.

Rather than traditional Halloween themes, young people on Shanghai’s Julu Road brought pop culture memes and social phenomena to life with their creative costumes. You could spot some dressed as the Lipstick King Li Jiaqi, who recently got caught up in controversy, or as “Dabai,” the anti-COVID workers in protective suits. This playful and unconventional celebration received praise from netizens across China.

The debate about whether or not people should be celebrating Western festivals often surfaces on Chinese social media during Halloween. However, the massive street party in Shanghai seemed to silence the critical voices this year. It appears that they reached a consensus; this Halloween celebration isn’t just about a Western festival, it’s an opportunity to let loose and express bottled-up emotions in a spooky and festive atmosphere. Whether dressed as writer Lu Xun making a statement or portraying a mobile surveillance camera, everyone found a haven for unrestrained self-expression. A comment under a photo recreating a scene from “Farewell My Concubine” captured the spirit: “Shanghai’s Halloween party has turned into China’s very own pride walk.”

With recent administrative rules turning Chinese New Year’s Eve into a regular workday, many young people express that they no longer care about a festival’s tradition and simply want to have some fun. One noteworthy viral video from Julu Road featured two guys dressing as legendary singers Feya Wong and Na Ying, performing a classic duet from the 1998 Spring Festival Gala. Netizens dubbed it the young generation’s Spring Festival Gala – a celebration of fun and creativity where happiness is the main focus.


What’s Memorable

Best reads from the archive

Changzhou Chemical Factory School Scandal | This week’s archival pick revisits a significant incident from eight years ago that fueled public distrust. In 2016, a major controversy unfolded around a middle school in Changzhou, where almost 500 students fell seriously ill, some diagnosed with leukemia. The health issues emerged after the school relocated to a new area near a chemical factory in September 2015.

Upon investigation, it was revealed that air and water pollution from nearby chemical plants was the cause. The news triggered widespread anger and discussions on social media, with netizens questioning the contrasting facts that emerged. The incident brought to light not only broader concerns about environmental safety and public health in China but also underscored a deep-seated distrust between parents and schools, citizens and local authorities, and netizens and official media.

Read more


Weibo Word of the Week

The catchword to know, by Ruixin

“Toxic Fangirling” | Our Weibo Word of the Week is “辱骂式追星” (rǔmà shì zhuīxīng), which translates to “toxic fangirling” or “toxically rooting for someone.”

In China’s ever-evolving fan culture, the phenomenon of ‘rǔmà shì zhuīxīng‘ (辱骂式追星, lit: ‘abusive-style celebrity admiration’) or toxically fangirling has recently become a trend. This term refers to a rather extreme way for fans to engage with their their idols. When pleased, they express intense love and support for their idols, but they can turn into abusive trolls targeting their idols when dissatisfied. This shift from love to aggression can be triggered by small things, like an unflattering photo or an unsatisfactory performance. Initially viewed as a departure from blind loyalty, this fan behavior has now turned somewhat toxic.

Recently, this term has sparked discussions likening this kind of online behavior to toxic parent-child relationships in Chinese society. The hashtag “Asian parents toxically rooting [for their children]” (#东亚父母辱追#) gained traction on Weibo. A top viral quote joked, ‘My parents toxically root for me every day; as long as they’re paying, they feel they can insult me all they want.’ These discussions touched upon the issue of how many Chinese parents seem to follow a strict and demanding parenting approach, where children need to adhere to high standards and are only praised or acknowledged when high standards are met. If this is not the case, parents will scold or discipline their children in the name of ‘love.’

Netizens interpret this ‘toxic fangirling’ phenomenon half ironically, half seriously, suggesting its origin may be rooted in the collective childhood trauma of Chinese fangirls. Similar to how a dragon-slaying warrior can become an evil dragon, traumatized children may choose to whip their loved ones into what they desire.

This is an on-site version of the Weibo Watch newsletter by What’s on Weibo. Missed last week’s newsletter? Find it here. If you are already subscribed to What’s on Weibo but are not yet receiving this newsletter in your inbox, please contact us directly to let us know.

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Weibo Watch: A Decade of What’s on Weibo

The impactful, the humorous, the surprising, the iconic – these are stories to remember as we reflect on a decade of What’s on Weibo.

Manya Koetse



This week’s newsletter:
◼︎ 1. Editor’s Note
◼︎ 2. What Made an Impact
◼︎ 3. What Went Viral
◼︎ 4. What’s Iconic
◼︎ 5. What’s Controversial
◼︎ 6. What’s Shocking
◼︎ 7. What’s Funny
◼︎ 8. What Words to Know


Dear Reader,


On the night of October 16, 2010, the 22-year-old Li Qiming (李启铭) was drunk driving when he ran down two female college students roller-skating around the campus of Hebei University, killing one of them and severely injuring the other.

When he was arrested after fleeing the scene of the accident, Li Qiming showed neither concern nor remorse, and yelled: “Sue me if you dare! My Dad is Li Gang!” Li Gang was the deputy director of the local public security bureau.

“My Dad is Li Gang” (“我爸是李刚”) instantly became a popular Internet meme in China. The Hebei University incident garnered widespread attention as it touched upon several societal concerns, one of which was the mounting frustration regarding “guān èr dài” (官二代) – children of (former) government officials granted special privileges.

The phrase quickly spread far and wide, and people’s outrage started transforming into humor. The Chinese online community even organized a contest encouraging netizens to incorporate the phrase ‘my dad is Li Gang’ into classical Chinese poems, which drew thousands of entries.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Transport in Liuzhou, a city in Guangxi, used the phrase humorously on road signs that read, “Dear friends, please drive slowly. Your father is not Li Gang.” In contrast, a Chinese company produced car stickers stating: “Don’t touch me, my dad is Li Gang” (“别碰我,我爸是李刚”).

The slogan ‘My dad is Li Gang’ popped up everywhere, both online and offline.

That year, I often felt out of the loop when my Chinese friends in Beijing would use the ‘my dad is Li Gang’ sentence – referencing both the avoidance of responsibility and abuse of power – or other online memes in their jokes and discussions, often leading to the whole table bursting out laughing. I wanted to understand this aspect of China I knew so little about.

I realized that viral stories like the Li Qiming campus crash – and how they become embedded in collective memory in the digital age – were about much more than that tragic accident alone. It was not just about guān èr dài; it also reflected the disparities in wealth, other unequal social dynamics, on-campus traffic safety concerns, the issue of drunk driving, the way the story was suppressed and shaped by official channels, and the legal system (Li received a six-year prison sentence, which many people thought was too light).

As the role played by domestic social media continued to grow in China, particularly in the early years following the launch of Sina Weibo in 2009, I began to recognize the increasing significance of digital culture and online trends as a valuable lens through which to observe China’s rapid development and changing society.

So, in 2012, I registered the domain and started writing the first articles for What’s on Weibo in 2013. My goal was to establish a platform to report on important social trends in China. I wanted to cover not only what’s happening on Weibo but also in the broader Chinese online media world. This would help me gain a better grasp of the popular topics and the narratives that revolve around them. At the same time, I aimed to share these insights with a wider audience and create a connection between the Chinese-language and English-language online media scenes.

Ten years later, What’s on Weibo has grown into a website that has been visited by millions, garnered frequent mentions in international media, and been cited as a source in dozens of academic publications.

Chinese social media environment has seen several shifts through the past decade. The role played by Chinese social platforms, from Weibo to Wechat, from Douyin to Xiaohongshu, has become increasingly multifaceted. Enough reason to keep going and report on all the China trends that matter for the years to come.

In this special 10th anniversary newsletter, I’ve curated a selection of our most widely-read articles across various categories. I want to extend a special thank you to Miranda Barnes, who has served as a trend and news spotter for What’s on Weibo for the past six years. Throughout this time, we’ve engaged in countless discussions about trending topics, why they matter, and the diverse perspectives surrounding them. I’d also like to express my gratitude to Yiying Fan, Diandian Guo, Gabi Verberg, Cat Hanson, Boyu Xiao, Jialing Xie, Yue Xin, Chauncey Jung, Wendy Huang, and Zilan Qian, whose contributions have been so valuable to the site. Additionally, there are many others who have contributed occasionally, shared ideas, feedback, and suggestions – you know who you are – please understand that all of your input is highly appreciated.

Thanks to the support of a dedicated group of loyal readers and subscribers – you – it is possible for us to keep the site going. If you are currently not a paying subscriber, please do subscribe here to get access to all of our content and keep on receiving our Weibo Watch newsletter. I really do need your support to keep this site going for the coming years. After all, my dad is not Li Gang.

We will soon continue on our regular publishing schedule, please also follow me on X or Instagram (personal, What’s on Weibo) for the latest.



Some of our Biggest Stories

1 ◼︎ Dr. Li Wenliang |During China’s COVID years, there were a few pivotal moments when social media served as a platform for venting anger, frustration, and even despair, such as the moment the ‘Voices of April’ video flooded the internet (read). The first major social media storm revolved around Dr. Li Wenliang, one of the doctors who initially attempted to raise the alarm about the coronavirus outbreak in late December 2019. The convoluted information surrounding his tragic death in February 2020 exemplified the underlying problems in the handling of the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak in China. We first covered the story when it happened here, and then made a podcast about Dr. Li’s legacy a year later here (by the way, would you like us to do more podcasts? Let us know!)

Read more

2 ◼︎ “We Are All Fan Yusu” | Beijing migrant worker Fan Yusu became an overnight sensation when her autobiographical essay “I Am Fan Yusu” went viral on Chinese social media in late April 2017. The topics she so openly discussed in her essay, from domestic violence to social inequality, resonated with millions. After she became famous overnight, the author went into hiding and her essay was taken offline. What’s behind the sudden rise and silent disappearance of China’s biggest literary sensation of 2017? What’s on Weibo was among the first to cover her story in English and translate her full essay.

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3 ◼︎ The Chained Mother | A TikTok video showing a mother of eight young children living in a small hut with an iron chain around her neck sent shockwaves across Chinese social media in January of 2022. Despite local authorities claiming that the woman was suffering from mental illness and was receiving care, online sleuths began unraveling the mystery surrounding her. This story had a significant impact in China, both online and offline, raising public awareness about the issue of human trafficking in China’s countryside and ultimately resulting in six convictions. What’s on Weibo was among the first English-language websites to report on the case, and we published multiple articles on the topic as the case unfolded in real-time. Click here for an overview of all related articles.

Read more

4 ◼︎ Justice for Lamu | The popular Tibetan Douyin vlogger Lamu died after her husband attacked her and set her on fire inside her own home. After her tragic death, Chinese netizens collectively raised their voices against domestic violence and called on authorities to do more to protect and legally empower victims of domestic abuse. Besides our article on this topic, we also did a podcast about Lamu and the aftermath.

Read more

5 ◼︎ Battle Glorified | Over the years, there have been several noteworthy Chinese films that became social media phenomena, including Wolf Warrior II and The Wandering Earth. The most significant Chinese movie of 2021 was The Battle at Lake Changjin (长津湖). This war epic not only dominated all top trending lists on Chinese social media but also became an unprecedented box office hit during a period of heightened anti-American sentiments and official narratives emphasizing China’s victory in the Korean War.

Read more


What Went Viral

Those who went viral overnight

Ding Zhen and the Vagrant Professor

Every now and then, ordinary yet remarkable people achieve overnight fame because vloggers capture their story, smile, or charm, resulting in viral videos. Ding Zhen and the Vagrant Professor serve as prime examples of the profound impact of sudden fame, where life is forever altered. Ding Zhen, a 20-year-old farmer from Litang in the Kham region of Tibet, unwittingly rose to online stardom after being featured in a blogger’s photography session (read more or listen to our podcast). The Vagrant Professor, a homeless man who eloquently discussed literature and philosophy on the streets of Shanghai, also experienced a dramatic change in his life after going viral on Chinese social media (learn more).

Fu Yuanhui and the Question-Asking Bitch

One moment can make someone famous and unleash a flood of memes. Chinese Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui became a sensation on Chinese social media after she finished third in the women’s 100m backstroke in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. More than for her swimming skills, the 20-year-old athlete was praised for her funny expressions and down-to-earth attitude (read).In 2018, a Chinese female journalist attracted the attention of netizens when she disapprovingly glanced at the woman next to her posing a question during the Two Session, and then rolled her eyes (link). Both Fu and the so-called ‘question-asking bitch’ became a source of online banter and dozens of memes.

Uncle Carpenter and the Yunnan Ice Boy

China has so many faces, and people across the country are not always aware of other people’s everyday realities. Think about the mountainous villages where society is not yet very much digitalized, where parents often leave for work in the city, leaving the elderly and the young behind. In such places, a single photo or video can turn someone into a sensation and represent a much broader reality. Think of Uncle Carpenter’s story or the Yunnan ice boy’s picture as illustrations of this trend.

Tran Tyrant and Tyrant Train Woman

Sometimes people go insta-viral due to their nasty or rude behavior. This was the case for the Shandong man who refused to give up the seat he took from another passenger. He became known as the “High-Speed Train Tyrant” (高铁霸座男 gāotiě bà zuò nán) on Chinese social media (read). Later, a female passenger’s rude behavior also went trending on Chinese social media. Some netizens figured these two ‘high-speed train tyrants’ (高铁霸座) deserve each other, creating memes putting them together (link).


What Is Iconic

The iconic ones

You might know the chili sauce Lao Gan Ma, a household name in China. But maybe you’re less familiar with the story behind the sauce and its founder, which has inspired millions of people and has made ‘Old Godmother’ Tao Huabi a notable figure in Chinese contemporary culture today. For many, the successful businesswoman and ‘chili sauce queen’ is an embodiment of the ‘Chinese dream.’

Read more

From innocent children’s cartoon via subculture icon to banned topic; Peppa Pig has had a rollercoaster ride in China. In 2018, Peppa Pig became a subversive symbol to a Chinese online youth subculture dubbed ‘shehuiren‘ (社会人), literally ‘society people’, which is a group of young adults that is anti-establishment and somewhat ‘punk’ in their own way; going against mainstream values and, as state media outlet Global Times put it, are “the antithesis of the young generation the Party tries to cultivate.”

Read more

Perhaps you’ve seen the famous fighting scenes of Tarantino’s Kill Bill, know who Bruce Lee is, and have watched a kung fu movie at least once in your life – but do you know the Shaw Brothers enterprise? It’s the production company that gave martial art its worldly success on the big screen. Shaw Brothers made everybody go ‘kung fu fighting’, creating a unique Chinese cinema. Run Shaw, the last of the Shaw Brothers, passed away on Jan 7th 2014 at the age of 107, after which we published this short history of the Shaw Brothers & Chinese cinema.

Read more


Stories that triggered controversy

◼︎ “Seriously China?!” | In 2016, a Chinese ad campaign for washing detergent brand Qiaobi (俏比) that aired on TV and in cinemas started making its rounds on the internet, drawing much controversy for being “completely racist”. Read more.

◼︎ “Too Loud, Too Rude” | “They’re loud and rude, and spit on the floor.” An article in Swiss newspaper Heute reported about locals being digruntled with Chinese tourists, leading to Rigi Rails introducing special coaches for Asian tourists. The news triggered mixed reactions amongst Weibo’s netizens. Read more.

◼︎ Math Schoolbook Gate | It’s the textbook illustration controversy that dominated Chinese social media in Spring of 2022. After parents notes that the drawings in their children’s school math textbooks were “displeasing,” the entire Chinese internet weighed in and concluded that the overall design was just strange and “tragically ugly.” The controversy had some serious consequences for the publisher. Read here.

◼︎ Controversial Death | Some netizens called it one of the biggest controversies of the year. The death of the 29-year-old environmentalist Lei Yang while in police custody sparked online outrage in 2016, with many connecting this fatality to police brutality. Lei’s wife stepped forward, demanding answers from Beijing authorities on the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death. Read here.

◼︎ Marketing Controversy | There’ve been many China marketing disasters throughout the years, often relating to foreign brands in politically tense times (think of all the brands getting into trouble for listing Hong Kong separately from China during the Hong Kong protests). The 2018 D&G controversy is a classic one that completely struck a wrong chord. It started with a promotional video that was deemed racist, got really messy when screenshots went viral of a China-bashing online conversation with the alleged Stefano Gabbana, started snowballing when D&G claimed the account was hacked, and ended with the cancellation of Dolce & Gabbana’s big Shanghai show. Read here.


What’s Shocking

Stories That Gave Us Chills

▶︎ An incident in which a Shanghai man, who was thought to be dead, was taken to a funeral home before he was found to be alive became a big topic on Chinese social media. Link.

▶︎ Chinese underworld kingpin Zhao Fuqiang turned his Shanghai “Little Red Mansion” into a hell on earth for dozens of women who were forced into a life of sex work within his organized crime network. Link.

▶︎ An outburst of violence against female customers at a restaurant in Tangshan sent shockwaves across Chinese social media in 2022. Link.

▶︎ A man killed his wife in Shanxi in the middle of the street, yet nobody intervened. Link.

▶︎ Following the announcement of a positive Covid test result within a building in Shanghai’s Yangpu District, a collective exodus ensued as people wanted to avoid getting locked inside. Link.


What’s Funny

Some of our funniest

▶︎ Lego for Adults | A man who spent three days and three nights working on a Nick the Fox Lego sculpture was left aghast when his masterwork was pushed over by a little kid – just within an hour after it was first displayed.

Read more

▶︎ Avenging the Grannies | Over the years, there have been numerous stories related to China’s notorious dancing grannies, including incidents where stressed-out students were disrupted by their loud music. Thanks to this device that went viral in 2021, neighbors have a way to respond to the local square dancing group by secretly shutting down their music.

Read more

▶︎ Rabbit gets Roasted | A zodiac stamp issued by China Post on the occasion of the Year of the Rabbit became an unexpected viral hit in January of 2023. Not because of its pretty design, but because the red-eyed blue rabbit triggered controversy for being “monster-like” and “nightmare fuel.” It was not the only rabbit getting roasted!

Read more

▶︎ Cute Couple | While everybody was watching whether or not Nancy Pelosi would visit Taiwan in August of 2022, there was still time for some online banter amid growing tensions: Chinese netizens created a fantasy love affair between U.S. House speaker Pelosi and Chinese Global Times commentator Hu Xijin.

Read more

▶︎ Catch of the Day | It does not matter if you’re old or young, shrimp or fish – you couldn’t escape China’s zero-covid policy. These fish in Xiamen had to have their daily Covid tests, too.

Read more


Weibo Words to Remember

Some Noteworthy Catchwords That Went Viral

Green Tea Bitch | In the spring of 2013, a new term was launched over the Chinese Internet: ‘Green Tea Bitch’ (绿茶婊). According to Chinese netizens, the term is used to describe ambitious women who “pretend to be very innocent.”

Read more

Russia, the ‘Weak Goose’ | In 2022, multiple Chinese (military) bloggers started using the ‘weak goose’ (菜鹅) term in light of Russia’s fading victory, signaling a shift in online sentiments regarding Russia’s position and its military competence.

Read more

Little Sheep People | As many people faced Covid-related discrimination in China after testing positive in early 2022, social media users started speaking out against popular (online) language that refers to Covid patients as ‘sheep,’ saying the way people talk about the virus is worsening existing stigmatization.

Read more

Hard Isolation | The word popped up on Chinese social media in April of 2022 after some Shanghai netizens posted photos of fences being set up around their community building to keep residents from walking out.

Read more

Involution | Since recent years, this word has come to be used to represent the competitive circumstances in academic or professional settings in China where individuals are compelled to overwork because of the standard raised by their peers who appear to be even more hardworking.

Read more
This is an on-site version of the Weibo Watch newsletter by What’s on Weibo. Missed last week’s newsletter? Find it here. If you are already subscribed to What’s on Weibo but are not yet receiving this newsletter in your inbox, please contact us directly to let us know.

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